Kloeckner Metals’ Indianapolis Branch is centered on processing with stock to supplement it. As such, the facility does a lot of unique processing that many of the other branches don’t do. This makes it a very unique steel service center.
“We do a lot of value-added services here,” said Office Manager Steve Blair. “In today’s world, a lot of our customers don’t want to deal with the headaches associated with processing metals or they don’t have the time or man power. Many of our customers want material and component parts that are ready for assembly or installation, and that’s where we can help them.”
When the facility first got its Voortman machine, it was only the second one in the entire United States. The automated processing machine is an angle plate drill and punch line. The processing center also has 12 welders and is currently looking to hire 9 more. The facility works with just about any kind of carbon-based material, dealing with beams, merchant bars, plates, angles, channels, pipe, tubing and more.
“It is a convenience option, and it is a one-stop shop for them so they don’t have to waste a lot of labor and time on processing themselves,” Blair said.
The team in Indianapolis consists of a good mixture of seasoned employees with a lot of experience and new, green talent being developed. While veterans are always important to the team, it is also useful to bring in people without preconceived notions of how things are done so that you can mold them into the direction that the company needs to go. Blair thinks of one employee who was working as a butcher at a grocery store before coming to Kloeckner. He turned out to be a great employee who is now running the Voortman, the most complex machine in the facility.
“You always find those diamonds in the rough: somebody that we can mold into what we need them to be,” Blair said.
Morale in Indianapolis is at an all-time high, but that isn’t to say that the current market doesn’t present challenges. With so much work coming in, sometimes lead times can get pushed out. It is important to find the line between what is acceptable and what is not and be able to produce in a timely fashion. Still, with new small businesses being formed and new customers coming into the game, there is plenty of work to keep extremely busy.
“There are a lot of good opportunities with the market the way it is,” Blair said “It is basically our type of market where the work is coming to us. We don’t have to go and find it.”
Another central aspect of the Indianapolis branch is its community involvement. They run food drives for Thanksgiving, toy drives at Christmas, and back-to-school backpack drives at the end of July. They also are working with nine different career centers, trying to develop partnerships with them and talking to their students. One school is in the process of setting up a field trip for their welding group to come and visit the facility to see how things work. On an individual level, many employees participate in different things like walks and marathons to raise money for different charities.
“There is pretty good involvement here on both an individual and a company basis,” Blair said. “It means a great deal to those guys. They constantly come in and thank us for organizing things like that and helping the community.”
The uniqueness of the Indianapolis branch and their processing capabilities allow the branch to offer more opportunities for employees. For example, if a person is brought on as a welder and that isn’t working out, then they can try them on the burner machine or at the saws until a good fit is found. The branch also likes to cross train which helps develop employees by giving them many different skill sets and making them adaptable. You do something different every day, preventing the job from getting monotonous. Above all, the branch wants employees who are in it for the long haul.
“I stress the fact that it is a very good place to work here with lots of opportunities to grow, and the fact that it feels like a family oriented business,” Blair said. “We have several different opportunities here. We like to promote from within. Once you get here, we are looking for people who want a career, not somebody who is just looking for a paycheck or a job.”